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live event photography - book of souls, an iron maiden tribute band - photo copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - book a photoshoot at adrianfeliciano.com

Live Event Photography with Book of Souls

Heavy Metal Photography: Band Practice

A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by an old high-school friend of mine, Jason, about photographing his new heavy metal band, Book of Souls, an Iron Maiden tribute band during their upcoming public debut at the Strange Brew Pub in Norwich, CT. During our conversation, we discussed my coming down to photograph one of their band practice sessions, in order to get some usable promo photos with the promise that I would be as unobtrusive as possible in order to avoid disrupting their practice.

The photos that came about as a result turned out to be a complete change of pace from the usual electronic dance music event oriented photography I’ve been immersed in for the past few years. Heavy metal has always been my musical home, so to speak, and it was refreshing to hear the first power chords as they plugged in!

live event photography - book of souls, an iron maiden tribute band - photo copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - book a photoshoot at adrianfeliciano.com
Book of Souls‘ Jason Berube on bass

Event photography with the Black Foamie Thing

I wanted to share a little bit of the flash photography technique that I frequently use to light photos like the one of Jason, above. To date, it has never failed me.

For starters, before photographing any scene with additional lighting, I always underexpose the ambient a bit. I want the main subject(s) to pop within the image. To do that, the main, or key, light needs to dominate the scene. Ambient, or background lighting, can become fill-light, back-light, rim-light, or eliminated all together. The key to lighting (Haha!) a photo well is seeing and then controlling the light in a scene.

So, after a quick test exposure to get a measure of the room’s ambient light levels and setting the camera to under-expose the photo, it’s time to add my light to the scene. It’s always best to get light off the camera and from a higher angle, cuz “natural light” is always above-axis to your lens.

Flash photography 101, right?

But what if you’re in a small studio space, how are you supposed to get a speedlight raised and angled well when there is already barely enough room for you to stand?

The simplest solution is to attach the speedlight to your camera’s hotshoe, but direct flash on-camera flash can look rough unless, of course, you know how to use direct flash effectively.

headshot of blonde female model with dark red lipstick against a red wooden background - copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - visit adrianfeliciano.com
Direct flash headshot of Liz Arruda of apogeeflowtoys.com

So, bounce the flash, right? Advanced flash photography technique 101. Bounce. The. Flash.

Sure, it helps, but it also tends to throw light around haphazardly and you risk flash-punching and annoying the people around you (like people trying to practice for an upcoming heavy metal gig).

You can improve bounced-flash in a variety of ways (non-affiliate links):

  • ExpoImaging sells their Rogue Flashbenders for about $45 for use as a flag or snoot,
  • you can go completely Gary Fong chaotic and use his Lightsphere® — which throws light everywhere, uncontrollably, for around $70,
  • or pay more with the MagSphere for about $50 plus the required MagGrip for $25

Enter The Black Foamie Thing.

It’s a simple piece of black art foam cut to size and then held in place on the speedlight with a hair tie, or rubber band, or a ball-bungee cord, or a Velcro speed strap. Go as expensive as you really want with whatever you use to attach it to your flash. It’s your money to spend.

If you use hair ties, all told, you’d probably be using what amounts to maybe $2.00 to simulate a larger flash modifier like a good soft box that can easily cost around $60 to begin with.

Flash settings are crazy easy. Set your flash to eTTL, and point it to project the light onto the surface you want your “key light” to come from while dialing your ISO to higher than base settings (100-200, depending on the camera) or setting it to auto ISO.

Yes, really — you can get soft, simple, directional light with just an on-camera speedlight, a piece of cheap art foam, and a hair tie!

It’s how I lit nearly all the indoor and some outdoor images I took while at the newspaper:

portrait of an older black man wearing blue collared shirt, suspenders, and beige tie in front of a darker beige wall and city of holyoke massachusetts flag - published by the daily hampshire gazette - photo copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - see more at adrianfeliciano.com
DAILY HAMPSHIRE GAZETTE / ADRIAN FELICIANO – 2011 Portrait of Holyoke Police Chief, Anthony Scott (Ret) next to the City of Holyoke Massachusetts flag

It’s how I light a lot of the event photos I take when I am in a smaller venue:

live performance image of Black woman wearing headphones at DJ decks with multicolored red, yellow, orange, and green background lighting effect at elements, a local Boston drum and bass weekly, held at The Phoenix Landing in Cambridge, MA - Photo © Adrian Feliciano, all rights reserved | Adrianfeliciano.com
Mizeyesis performing her birthday set at elements, a weekly drum and bass night held at The Phoenix Landing in Cambridge, MA.
female bodied DJ wearing a tank top and headphones spinning music - copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - adrianfeliciano.com
Artemis on decks at New England Junglist Massive
square format image of female dj on decks with an excited smile - copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - contact adrianfeliciano.com to book your next photoshoot
Marianne / Glowworm on deck at elements, a weekly drum and bass night held at The Phoenix Landing in Cambridge, MA.

It’s how I’ve lit impromptu portraits:

black and white photo of tribal fusion performer wearing a skull and spike headpiece and thin veil - copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - visit adrianfeliciano.com to book a photoshoot
Portrait of Nicole at Wonder Bar in Allston, MA

Boudoir photography:

boudoir photography with woman wearing a corset and putting on white lace stockings copyright adrianfeliciano.com
Boudoir photography with Angil Love
Boudoir photography session with anonymous model

Nude photos:

From a nude body painting photoshoot in NH

Even some still life fine art photos:

From a nude body painting photoshoot in NH

And it’s how I lit a heavy metal band practicing in a studio space no bigger than a small bedroom:

In summary

Flash photography does not have to be a complicated or unnecessarily expensive affair. $2.00 – $3.00 and a surface to bounce light off is all it should take to vastly improve the look of your photography without resorting to trying to “fix it in post.”

Want to see more of my photography?

My photography portfolio presents the best of my headshot, portrait, boudoir, nightlife event, and fire performer and flow artist photography.

Want to schedule a photography session?

If you’re nearby and would like to schedule a photo shoot together, please visit my contact page to send me a message so we can get started!

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photo of Hampshire Life cover depicting a portrait of an older black man wearing blue collared shirt, suspenders, and beige tie in front of a darker beige wall and city of holyoke massachusetts flag - letting spells out "Hampshire Life - The Gazette's Weekly Magazine for the Pioneer Valley" and "Great Scott? The controversial tenure of Holyoke's retiring police chief, page 12" - published by the daily hampshire gazette - photo copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - see more at adrianfeliciano.com

Portrait of Holyoke Massachusetts Police Chief Scott

Photography assignment: The Daily Hampshire Gazette

In 2011, the Gazette sent me on assignment to take some photos of Holyoke Police Chief Scott for a story they were doing on his impending retirement. To this day, Chief Scott remains one of my favorite portrait photography subjects and this photo assignment remains one of my favorites.

Photography gear used

I didn’t have much, at this point, in terms of photography equipment. Just a Canon Rebel XTi, 580EX-II Speedlight, a Sigma 17-70mm 2.8-4.0 lens, a Canon 50mm 1.4, and Canon 85mm 1.8 lens and a basic camera bag.

No fancy lighting, no quick-setup light-stand, no portable softbox or light modifiers. Not even a cheap umbrella.

I just had some hair ties and a black foamie thing.

Meet Anthony Scott, Holyoke Police Chief

Chief Scott was no nonsense, approachable, friendly enough, but very disinterested in the whole ordeal. I managed to get a few photos of him outside the station. One of the images that got published was one where he immediately scanned the next street as one of the cruisers blew by, lights flashing and sirens blaring; the photo looked as if he was keeping an eye on the department as much as he kept watch over Holyoke. The City and Department were his domain and he kept a close eye on both.

Chief Scott’s ambivalence to getting a “photo for the paper” made it difficult to show any kind of connection that could engage readers of the Gazette. He had three basic expressions — bored, uninterested, and none — while his department was a mix of colors from red walls and beige ceilings to beige walls and beige ceilings and red carpeting everywhere.

Meanwhile, all of it happened to be nightmarishly lit by fluorescent lights above while blocking bright sunlight with blue blinds in front of large windows.

Can you imagine trying to take a decent portrait there?

Argh!

The portrait comes together

Fortunately, Chief Scott was a good sport and we quickly set up an impromptu portrait studio in his office since he was packing up and retiring later that week anyway. Shuffling some boxes aside, and opening the blinds brought in enough light to overpower the gross greenish hue from overhead fluorescent lights. It’s a cliche, but we did a few shots next to the United States flag.

At no point did his expression really vary even though, by now, Chief Scott actually seemed interested in getting a good portrait taken. You can kind of see the “how am I doing?” in his eyes in this photo. Settings were simple: 17-70mm lens, f3.5, 1/200″ at iso800 and eTTL flash for fill, bounced against a wall to camera left and flagged with a black foamie thing.

Finally, we decided to go with the City of Holyoke flag as more appropriate for a portrait background, since that was the city he watched over. I used a horizontal composition for balance between the city and the person entrusted with its safety for a decade and decided to just go with his no nonsense demeanor. A couple of quick “test photos” to dial in exposure and composition later, I told him that I was going to have him close his eyes, breathe in, exhale, and open his eyes, then take his portrait on a count of three. He nodded in understanding with a very slight smile, as if to say “Good, that’s simple. I can do this,” to himself.

With that, I gave Chief Scott his final set of directions, for real: “Okay, Chief, now close your eyes and take a deep breath…Great — remember on three — now exhale and open your eyes…”

The moment he opened his eyes, I hit the shutter and took this portrait, which ended up as the front page photo for Hampshire Life, a weekly magazine published by the Daily Hampshire Gazette, in April of 2011:

The final settings were: f4.0, 1/200″ at iso800 and eTTL fill flash bounced and flagged with a black foamie thing

The point

All told, I was originally there for fifteen minutes of Chief Scott’s time. As the photo assignment progressed, he ended up giving me about thirty minutes total and I did not want to take up more time than he was willing to give. The final portrait fell together in about five minutes.

As I thanked him for his time, he escorted me to the front door he told me that he was glad I was willing to take the extra time to work with him at getting a good portrait that he was happy with and captured what he felt was the totality of his career in a single image. I told him that it was my honor that he trusted me with the extra few minutes, because I could appreciate just how busy he was going to be, right up until the day he officially retired from the force.

He smiled, and said that he still wasn’t sure what he would do after his retirement ceremony. I told him that he could do whatever he wanted and he gave a half-laugh and said that was exactly what was scaring him. “Can you believe it? I’ve been such a hard ass for so long, but here I’m telling you how scared I actually am,” he said as we shook hands. “I’m glad I had some extra time.”

“Enjoy all the time that you have left, Chief.”

“…Thank you. I will. You too, son.”

A good portrait does not always need the best “pro level” camera, lenses, or accessories, nor does it need a studio filled with modifiers, strobes, backdrops, and an environment with perfectly controlled lighting.

It just takes the time to get to know the person in front of your lens, and making a connection with another human being who is feeling vulnerable while simultaneously trusting you to show them at their best.

It’s never easy but it is always worth the effort.

Want to see more of my photography?

My photography portfolio presents the best of my headshot, portrait, boudoir, nightlife event, and fire performer and flow artist photography.

Want to schedule a photography session?

If you’re nearby and would like to schedule a photo shoot together, please visit my contact page to send me a message so we can get started!

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posed portrait of a blonde female model with dark red lipstick and wearing a black cropped tank top and a female model with purple bangs, rave styled hair falls, nose jewelry, and dark red lipstick standing back to back in front of a brick and concrete wall - copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - visit adrianfeliciano.com

Headshots and Portraits with Liz and Shayna

On-location Portraits with Speedlights

The other day I got together with Liz and Shayna for a headshot and street portrait photography session around Providence, Rhode Island with the intention of getting out from pandemic isolation and helping each other to have fun with good friends while driving around some shady areas of Providence in a creeper van. It’s been quite a while since our last photoshoot together, and none of us was happy about it.

This won’t be a particularly long blog-post about what went on behind-the-scenes while photographing models, or chin-stroking over which photography settings are best for on-location speedlight headshots, or even obsessing over my favorite in-camera and lighting techniques to achieve a certain look while shooting street portraits.

I just wanted to extend my gratitude and appreciation to Liz Arruda of Apogee Flow Toys and Shayna Rose over on Instagram as @nyxivy for their time, patience, creativity, and the energy they brought to our photoshoot this past weekend. I’ve been struggling with isolation because of people’s pandemic irresponsibility and to be around other folks who take it as seriously as I do, and wanted to find a way to hang out while making art happen has helped to cheer me up somewhat, and given me enough of the happy brain-chemicals that I don’t feel so isolated at the moment today.

So, to my friends, supporters, family, readers, and fans, thank you! This photographer is always grateful, and lucky, for your willingness to share space and time in my weird little corner of the void.

Remember: wash your hands, don’t touch your face, when indoors wear a mask, and get vaccinated as soon as you’re able. Take care of yourselves and each other.


Headshots with a single speedlight and black background

Outdoor headshots with direct on-camera flash

Outdoor natural light portraits

Street portraits with two speedlights

Street portraits with a single off camera speedlight

Shameless self-promotion

Want to see more of my photography?

My photography portfolio presents the best of my headshot, portrait, boudoir, nightlife event, and fire performer and flow artist photography.

Want to schedule a photography session?

If you’re nearby and would like to schedule a photo shoot together, please visit my contact page to send me a message so we can get started!


Credits

Models:

Liz Arruda – Apogee Flow Toys

Shayna Rose – @nyxivy

Liz Arruda’s Leggings:

Pattern copyright © Kevin Psychedelik

Buy them here (direct link).

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outdoor photo of male fire performer "eating fire" using a torch - DO NOT ATTEMPT - PROFESSIONAL FIRE PERFORMER - copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - book a fire portrait photoshoot at adrianfeliciano.com

Another Swampy Portrait Photography Session

My most recent photography adventure brought me to Voluntown, CT, this past weekend.

I was invited to a private birthday campout by Andrew, a fire-spinning buddy of mine, for some heashots and fire-performer photography action shots.

His location was wonderfully hidden away from everyone, on a swampy piece of family property. Between alien-looking, multi-colored WTF bugs, the brutal humidity, and the ever rising tide of COVID-19 infections, I think we were able to pull off a successful photoshoot and birthday celebration.

We started with a simple headshot portrait session.

(They look like high school yearbook photos!)

Andrew wanted updated headshot photos for his social media accounts, including some portraits and fire-spinning images showing him doing his thing. A headshot session in the swamps of Connecticut was a great opportunity to test out some updated flash-photography gear. I showed up with three Godox TT600 manual flashes, gelled and attached to lightstands with Godox Bowens-style mounts, and triggered them all with a Godox X2TC remote attached to my Canon dSLR. They worked flawlessly, and not needing a separate set of triggers for each flash helped to cut down on both set-up time and needing additional AA batteries to keep charged.

One thing to note about editing style is that I like very punchy color and minimal “Photoshopping.” It’s not my thing. I don’t aim for flawless skin, frequency-separation, digital airbrushing, or body-sculpting. I prefer to show people as naturally as I can even if it means occasionally wiping down shiny skin, caused by sweating in a humid environment, from time to time.

Afterwards, we shot some fire eating portraits

(Needless to say, Andrew is a trained fire-performer. Do not attempt to eat or play with fire, in any way, without the required training, safety equipment, and a crucial lack of common-sense or self-preservation. Don’t do it!)

The reason Andrew reached out for a portrait photography session together is that my specialty is fire performer photography, and we were able to put together some images without the pressure of photographing a fire spinning act in a live setting. We could take our time, toss ideas out to each other, I could light it how I wanted, and he could use whatever props he wanted to be photographed with.

Thankfully, the air was relatively still and whatever minimal breeze did happen consistently blew one direction and was barely a factor. There would be no way to safely eat fire or perform vapor-torch tricks in swirling air!

Andrew played around with other fire props

The rest of the photos we took were centered around the dedicated fire-circle Andrew set up, ringed by citronella torches. To light photos with the fire staff and dragon staff, I had the key-light gelled with CTO and set the camera to 3200K, or Tungsten white balance, in order to preserve the yellow-orange flames while simultaneously reducing their influence on over all color cast. A red-gelled flash was aimed to cross with the key light in order to add a touch of dramatic fill-lighting.

To photograph the fire sword and fire flail, I changed lenses and turned off the flashes in order to grab some action shots, lit only by the props themselves. It was obvious, to me, by this point, near the end of the photo session that 1) I was sorely out of practice with fire performer photography, and 2) I was getting very tired with a 2 hour drive back, so it was safest all around to call it a night.

I did have the option to camp out in Nightshade, but I thought it was best to let Andrew focus on his birthday celebration campout with his other friends, who were wonderfully accommodating of my COVID-19 concerns, and very much stayed a socially distant 6-10 feet away, even when enlisting some to help with other photo ideas, even if those ideas did not work out.

We also used an LED dragon-staff for some photos

Misc images and some outtakes

Some guy…

There’s normal flow-face, and then there’s I CAN SEE GOD flow-face…

One last thing

Something that every portrait photographer needs in their camera bag is good portrait banter.

I tend to ramble during a portrait session. For example, this is what I was saying while guiding Andrew’s head, face tilt, eyes, shoulder placement, and expression:

“Wait! Okay, now what the hell is that? What are you doing? All right, let’s try this. Something different. Ready? Great. Take the corners of your mouth, right? Okay, now try to touch your ears with them…”

Portrait photography banter

Andrew looked at me with the most incredulous “what the fuck is that supposed to mean??” expression and then found himself fighting the urge to smirk, as if he just ripped an uncomfortably moist fart, before he burst into laughter for a few seconds, and then quickly recomposed himself.

I may have said something completely bizarre but his eyes came alive in this photo, and that is all that mattered. It ended up becoming one of my favorite photos of the entire night.

Want to see more of my photography?

My photography portfolio presents the best of my headshot, portrait, boudoir, nightlife event, and fire performer and flow artist photography.

Want to schedule a photography session?

If you’re nearby and would like to schedule a photo shoot together, please visit my contact page to send me a message so we can get started!

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live performance image of Black woman wearing headphones at DJ decks with multicolored red, yellow, orange, and green background lighting effect at elements, a local Boston drum and bass weekly, held at The Phoenix Landing in Cambridge, MA - Photo © Adrian Feliciano, all rights reserved | Adrianfeliciano.com

Photography and an Eye on Electronic Dance Music

I was approached by Ryan Eisele a week or so ago about licensing a photo of Mizeyesis that I took while she performed her birthday set at elements, a weekly drum-and-bass event held at The Phoenix Landing in Cambridge, MA., for a pandemic interview series. The website is a newly launched community resource, and is centered on an electronic dance music community calendar.

I thought it was important to make sure that the licensed photo had the best possible edit I could create, compared to the earlier edit, so I made sure that the final version remained true to the original photo while bringing out greater detail in the lighting and LED screen in the background, highlighting (har har!) Mizeyesis’ hair, and balancing a touch more warmth with subtle vibrancy to her skin tones. The final version I sent out is high-resolution and un-compromised by Facebook’s brutal compression.

(I still didn’t use Photoshop to do it. 😀)

Thank you, Ryan! I am grateful and humbled by your outreach and am glad we could work something out that helps to support all three parties involved.

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banner with text "arborway boston, ma" and "adrianfeliciano.com" superimposed over an image of a rhododendron copyright adrian feliciano @ adrianfeliciano.com

Photo of a Rhododendron in Boston, MA

Rhododendrons at the Arborway in Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA

I was walking the Arborway in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, a couple of years ago, and tried my hand at photographing something, anything, other than people. It turns out that sometimes flowers, such as rhododendrons, can be more difficult to photograph than people. At least people can occasionally take direction, while plants will do their own damned thing, especially on a surprisingly breezy day.

image of rhododendron against plain white background copyright adrian feliciano @ adrianfeliciano.com
Rhododendron at the Arborway in Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA.
© 2019 Adrian Feliciano / adrianfeliciano.com

I don’t typically use Photoshop, a discipline I picked up when I was an local news intern photographer for the Daily Hampshire Gazette, but I wanted to isolate the rhododendron itself and punch it out onto a plain white background and test out my editing prowess because I thought it would make a suitable graphic for a variety different products that I put up in my merch shop.

The heavy lifting was done with the free version of the Topaz Plugin Suite. It’s definitely not my usual image, and the entire process was a little outside my comfort zone, but I am happy with how it turned out. What do you think?

Speaking of products with this rhododendron image…

Want to see more of my photography?

My photography portfolio presents the best of my headshot, portrait, boudoir, nightlife event, and fire performer and flow artist photography.

Want to schedule a photography session?

If you’re nearby and would like to schedule a photo shoot together, please visit my contact page to send me a message so we can get started!

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female model in shego from kim possible black and geen cosplay photoshoot copyright adrianfeliciano.com

Shego Cosplay Photoshoot with Ashley

Portrait Photoshoot – Shego from Kim Possible

I went to Worcester, this past Saturday, to meet with Ashley for a portrait photoshoot idea she had contacted me about. Not gonna lie, it was a cold day.

Massachusetts is under a COVID-19 stay-at-home advisory between 10pm-5am for most people, so the timing was a little challenging. We scheduled the shoot early enough to have day light available to set up equipment and have plenty of time available for photography, and late enough that we would not be fighting with bright sunlight or waiting too long for darkness to happen, in case we had some flow toys to incorporate.

Ashley did bring an LED light-whip; however, conditions were not conducive to effective long exposure photography.

In order to simulate darker conditions, I decided to work with lower ISO, a shutter speed around 1/200″ and f-stops between 4.0 and 5.6, while using a speedlight for keylighting. Also, taking into account some fan-art of Shego using a greenish outline to her hair against black backgrounds, I used the mobility and hands-free operation of the RTMS2000 with a second speedlight with a green gel to provide hair lighting. You can see the full effect of those settings in the photo gallery below.

Once we got started, the photo shoot went surprisingly quickly and we were able to maintain strict distance and shooting protocols with COVID-19 in mind. There were a couple of occasions where I had to lower my mask due to my camera’s eyepiece fogging up a little, but it was a temporary measure as needed. By the time we packed up, what felt like three to four hours of photography ended up being about two hours and I was able to maintain consistency across images due to simulating darkness through in-camera settings.

Cosplay photography is something I don’t do all that often, but I am glad for the opportunity to exercise some creative muscles after a fairly sizable drought, due to the every worsening COVID-19 pandemic, here in the United States. As always, I am happy to be around people who take precautions seriously, and are willing to take the extra little steps necessary to watch out for each other.

Thank you to Ashley and the RTMS2000, without whom this portrait photoshoot could not have happened!

Shego Cosplay Photo Gallery With Ashley

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My photography portfolio presents the best of my headshot, portrait, boudoir, nightlife event, and fire performer and flow artist photography.

Want to schedule a photography session?

If you’re nearby and would like to schedule a photo shoot together, please visit my contact page to send me a message so we can get started!

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Halloween Photoshoot at Burrage Pond

Halloween Photoshoot With a Demon and a Witch at Burrage Pond

This past Saturday, I met with some friends at Burrage Pond in Hanson, MA for some much needed photoshoot therapy together. It was the first time I picked up my camera since this past February, so I was a little nervous. Because COVID-19 rates are climbing again in the United States, I was considerably nervous. I have asthma and it places me into a higher risk group for serious complications because of SARS-CoV-2.

While organizing the shoot, it was important to be sure everyone present was on the same page in terms of what to expect, and that included outlining some procedures for everyone’s health and safety. I required a COVID-19 test to be taken two days prior to the shoot and if it was not possible due to timing, then strict social-distancing measures would be necessary. Thankfully, everyone involved understood and took precautions very seriously.

The day of the shoot itself went smoothly. The group of us walked into Burrage Pond in the late afternoon so we had plenty of light to work with, and so we had options on how to light and caught up with mutual banter and friendly roasting while I set up my lighting kit. It’d been so long that I was having momentary brain-farts, like “so how many batteries do I need for this flash again?..” Ugh.

We set up along a wooded pathway, isolated from everyone else, and very private. Perfect place for a photographer and his assistant to lure set up a shoot with two gorgeous models. The area included a large boulder off the walking path that was another perfect spot to use for the shoot.

The set up was a simple three point lighting kit. 1 speedlight and umbrella for the keylight, two gelled speedlights for the background and accent lighting, one red, one bluish-purple, all on basic manual radio-triggers. At the boulder, lighting was even simpler. The red and blue lights were set up for the background and accent lighting again while the key light was a handheld LED video light mounted on a voice-activated, remote-controlled, semi-autonomous, all-terrain capable mobile light-stand (my assistant).

The sun was setting, and shooting at night isn’t an issue more than trying to put away gear in pitch black darkness would be, so rather than shoot from the afternoon until around 9pm, it was better to call it a day around 7pm instead.

It was good to get back into a creative head-space again, after 8 months of self-isolating due to COVID-19. It was even better, more importantly, to be among people who were willing to be responsible for each other’s health and safety and who, clearly, value each other’s friendship. This pandemic has revealed a lot about people, who can be trusted, who is responsible, and who is worth making an effort for. I’m looking forward to another creative session with good friends soon!

Full Photo Gallery

Models:

  • Shayna Rose – Demon
  • Danielle MacNevin – Witch

Assistant:

RTMS-2000 – Artemis

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headshot portrait of young woman wearing glasses and a black long sleeved shirt backlit by a red rim-light | Portrait of Gabi © Adrian Feliciano | Find more photography related content at adrianfeliciano.com

The Best Advice for New Photographers

New Photographer Advice

I wanted to pass on some advice to new photographers. It does not matter if you specialize in portraits, headshots, boudoir, or any other photography genre and it’s something I learned that applies to sales in general, whether it’s screening applicants as a corporate recruiter or selling digital cameras at CompUSA, Best Buy, or Ritz Camera absolutely is advice that applies to you as well:

I’ll be blunt here:

As a photographer, people don’t buy your photos because you’re “the best!” photographer in the world. There will always be another photographer who is better or cheaper. Suck it up, hero.

In retail, people don’t buy the camera you’re selling because you work at Best Buy when they can get that exact model at Amazon, probably for cheaper and without getting hounded about that stupid extended warranty all retailers try to push on you.

As a job applicant, people don’t actually hire you for your “unique” skill-set. I say this as a former staffing specialist at a global staffing firm: there are a thousand other products applicants with the same skills, same generic resume, same blasé personality, and they’re probably wearing the same tie that you are wearing.

TeLL mE wHy ShUd I HiRe U?

The Jerk Who Should Be Hiring You

The simple truth is that a randomly generated 64 character ASCII string is statistically unique. Your “skills” are not. Seriously, according to the GRC Haystack, the fastest it would take to crack the following randomly generated 64 character string as a password is an estimated 12.06 million, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, centuries or 1.206 x 10^105 (120,600 googol?) years, according to a more mathematically-learned buddy of mine:

x~avk./i<hP^,)YW4^L!Qm}T`4Sg)f=F6VBSi5EjNR]@f&??:^Gu[VJxLq7QzSR

The point is:

In reality, we are all just selling the same crap and there is nothing unique about your products, your skills, and your rates. There will always be someone else selling the same camera, taking the same types of photos that you do, or who has a similar skill set. Someone else will always will be better, cheaper, hungrier, luckier, or more connected than you are. It is a frustratingly difficult lesson to learn and a brutally humbling truth to accept.

If that is true, then what actually differentiates you from any another sales person, new hire, or photographer trying to stand out from the huge crowd of your competitors? You do.

Yes, you.

You stand out because they are not you and they will never be you.

red haired woman with white gauze covering her eyes and clay smeared on her body. portrait of Sunshine © adrianfeliciano.com
Portrait of Sunshine as she gets prepped for an art project by Soyoon Cha.

Here’s a little secret advice:

The only reason why people buy from you or decide to hire you is because they like you. That’s it. That’s all.

As this article on Petapixel describes:

If you want to play in the ‘commodity’ lane and be compared on your prices, yeah, you’re gonna be made (sic) when someone comes out who is cheaper than you […] But if you manage to step out of that lane and sell yourself based on value and experience, then you never have to worry. Never once […]

Heather Lahtinen, The Flourish Academy

In the end, I, you, they — anyone with a camera really — can take a photo. Most will be god awful. Some will be much better than you. A lot better. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

Anyone with a camera can photograph poi spinning culturally-appropriative dready-haired spunion wooks and hoop spinning burner yoga goddesses at a festival. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

Anyone with a camera can do a half priced, fifteen minute, mini portrait session weekend flash sale at a park. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

Anyone with a camera can be an independent ‘tog who specializes in newborn, family, maternity, wedding, social media, product, influencer, mom-blogging, solopreneuer, boss-babe photography. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

Anyone with a camera can be a creepy GWC neckbearded fedora-tipping milady incel master-rigger with a sketchy modeling contract who trawls for “open minded” talent on Model Mayhem and FetLife for nude boudoir shibari “art” collabs. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

behind the scenes snapshot of a portrait photography session. the image shows the back view of photographer in black shirt, bdu pants, and boots directing a female bodied person, also in black, next to an off-camera flash and umbrella on light stand to frame-left. They are on a leaf covered trail in the woods near Burrage Pond, in Hanson, Massachusetts. | Image © Danielle MacNevin and is used with permission | Visit adrianfeliciano.com for more photography related content!
Sometimes, a good GWC can get models to meet them alone in the woods

Anyone with a camera can always be cheaper, more expensive, less skilled, have better equipment, use retro cheap gear, specialize in natural light, be a Strobist snob with a 3 pointed lighting kit and run an assembly line headshot boudoir photography business as they masturbate endlessly in photography oriented comments sections about off-camera flash, LED video lights, Sony ruleZ, laughs in EOS, Nikon 4 Lyfe, M4/3 cultism (RIP Olympus) while getting more likes on their vlog about photography (hit that Subscribe button!) than you ever will, all while hating on the latest Peter Lik abomination. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

Do what you will. Create your own market how ever you decide. Fill it with fanatics who love you and love your work. Market yourself as the best experience for your clients. Charge what you feel you are worth, charge the average for your market, overcharge, or give away the store. None of those options are sustainable in the wrong market, anyway. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

The photographer who is stalking your posts on Facebook and complaining about your choice to charge a fee or not? They don’t have a market that actually supports their photography. They haven’t differentiated themselves enough on anything but price simply because, as they’re unconsciously realizing, that anyone with a camera can be a photographer, and it terrifies them. So what? That’s entirely their problem to figure out. It’s never your problem. Do you, and keep taking photos.

Realize that you differentiate yourself from all those other people. You are not any of your “competitors,” and that is your greatest asset. Run your shit up the nearest flag-pole as high as it can go, and see who salutes it.

So, if I could pass on just one piece of advice, from one photographer to another, it is this:

Clients will hire you because they like you. Do you, and keep taking photos.

“The Best Advice for New Photographers,” by Adrian Feliciano

That’s it.

That’s all.

Good luck.


Want to see more of my photography?

My photography portfolio presents the best of my headshot, portrait, boudoir, nightlife event, and fire performer and flow artist photography.

Want to schedule a photography session?

If you’re nearby and would like to schedule a photo shoot together, please visit my contact page to send me a message so we can get started!

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outdoor modeling photo of bearded man with sunglasses

Fashion Photoshoot at Purgatory Chasm with Nick

Let’s talk about branding

It’s no huge secret that I have been working on putting together a small e-commerce store as a platform and income stream to support my photography. To that end, I’ve thought about “branding” and how I could align it with my own beliefs and values, whatever that means. I have already embraced the idea of “imperfection” as a photographer. In my view, flaws and mistakes can exist side-by-side with precision and accuracy because perfection is an impossible standard to achieve. It is when precision and flaws are combined in unique ways that true beauty can be found. Which leads me back to branding and values.

Let’s cut right to the chase:

  • More often than not, the photography used in the fashion world promotes a negative body image and distorted sense of beauty held to genetically unrealistic standards.
  • Fashion segments people into a gendered binary, or a sliding scale of sizes, and then prices accordingly.
  • Sourcing material has its own problems where exploitative conditions in the name of profits frequently trumps fair wages or local jobs, etc.

Obviously, this is all a gross over simplification but it covers what I want to address. I intend to align my branding with what I believe in:

  • Human beings are beautiful. I intend to work with models of different physical, genetic, or gender expressions to help promote my store. It’s simple. Wear my stuff and I’ll happily photograph you wearing it.
  • As often as possible, I will collaborate with local models, performers, graphic designers, illustrators, and other creatives and pay them for their work. None of this “do it for the exposure!” crap.
  • If it is available for plus-sizes, I will price it the same as non-plus sizes. I may price a little higher than average, but that will only be because I am willing to lose $2 in profit on one end in order to avoid punishing someone of a different size.
  • I will price items the same regardless of someone’s different physical sex characteristics. For example, a cut and sew all over print crew neck shirt will be priced the same for men and women.
  • I may charge a little differently from time to time, but it will not to the detriment of female bodied people, and only when it makes sense. For example, in the case of non-yoga leggings for men vs non-yoga leggings for women, I may charge a little more for men. After all, as a cis-bodied man myself, we need more material and my penis’ comfort is worth it, damnit!
  • The sourcing for clothing blanks, and fabrics will be as ethical as possible. Originally, I had looked into American Apparel as a t-shirt blank; however, after a recent purchase of American Apparel by Gildan, and digging more into Gildan’s ethical practices, I do not feel comfortable supporting American Apparel, at this time.
  • For now, my blanks are sourced from suppliers including Bella+Canvas, Next Level Apparel, and LA Apparel, manufacturers who make every effort to commit to fair wages, free trade, and produce sweatshop and child-labor free apparel. Direct to Garment Printing and the fulfillment of Cut and Sew items is based in the United States of America whenever possible.

Let’s talk about representation

Nick is a very proud gay man and has given me his full consent to identify him as a gay man. We started our shoot very plainly. Simple headshots while wandering the woods of Purgatory Chasm, looking for good lighting and places for quickie shots.

It is in this spirit that I present to you my friend, Nick, and our photoshoot at Purgatory Chasm, in Central Massachusetts.


Phase One

Welcome to Purgatory

Phase Two

All About That Bear Honey

The closer to the edge of the chasm we went the more the jokes, innuendo, laughs, and gayety came out. Between Nick and Artemis, my intrepid photo-assistant, we had multiple moments such as the following exchange:

Her – “You got a new Grindr photo now!”

Me – “Yeah, you’ve totally got some bear honey right there…”

Hey, it’s important to have fun on a photoshoot, right?

Phase Three

I never thought I’d say this to another man, but put that dress on…”

At the end of the shoot, we decided to go all out and do some real gender-fuckery. A cis-bodied gay man in a dress for no other reason than to wear one, super tight yoga leggings, classic gothy black lipstick, femme style fashion model emoting, and lumbersexual posing with a pole. What you don’t see are the photos with the massive stiletto heels Nick wore while perched near the edge of the chasm.

Don’t worry, Nick wasn’t really anywhere close to the edge; my liability insurance only covers so much…

Want to see more of my photography?

My photography portfolio presents the best of my headshot, portrait, boudoir, nightlife event, and fire performer and flow artist photography.

Want to schedule a photography session?

If you’re nearby and would like to schedule a photo shoot together, please visit my contact page to send me a message so we can get started!


Model: Nick Swan

Photography: Adrian Feliciano

Make up, wardrobe, photography assistant: Artemis